One of the most popular things to do in Knysna is a visit to the Knysna Elephant Park, an elephant sanctuary only 23,5km from Knysna. Get up close and personal to this 7000kg wonder, walk and sleep with them – or even get married with them!
Buzz South Africa describes visiting the elephants as a “brilliant thing to do in Knysna and South Africa.” According to the South African Biodiversity Institute elephants have captured the imagination of people across the globe and that no species have received more attention than the magical elephant. Once you’ve visited the Park, you’ll understand why.
The Knysna Elephant Park, established in 1994, was the first facility in South Africa to house and care for orphaned African elephants. Over the last twenty years, the park has cared for and raised more than forty elephants. These animals include relocated animals, orphaned calves, elephants rescued from culls and ex-circus animals. Some have become part of the resident herd while others have moved to other reserves and facilities in the Western and Eastern Cape.
The present 2020 Knysna Elephant Park has ten elephants – the largest domesticated matriarchal herd in South Africa. They offer guests the opportunity to get close to the great beasts – on elephant terms – which means going respectfully into the turf where they have space and freedom to roam, their home.
There are no fences to spoil the close encounter and this unique environment encourages elephants to exhibit natural behaviour in what is their safe place. What puts this Knysna elephant sanctuary up in the top echelon of its peers in South Africa are all the creative ways in which you can experience the elephants.
Take a scenic walk
The scenic walk includes meandering through the park at elephant pace with panoramic views of the Outeniqua Mountains and the Knysna forest. Guides will share their informative elephant tales and answer questions during this 45-minute stroll.
The breakfast elephant walk
A new experience introduced in 2020, the breakfast elephant walk will include the same leisurely stroll as the scenic walk, but you will end off your walk with a breakfast picnic at the Lapa. The Lapa overlooks the valley filled with indigenous forest and birdlife – listen for the call of the famous Knysna Loerie – whilst enjoying your breakfast picnic basket. If the weather doesn’t play ball then the Indlovu Café restaurant offers sustenance.
Sleeping with the elephants
One of the highlights of the Knysna Elephant Park is the extraordinary Elephant Lodge which is built within the elephant sleeping quarters offering an incredible sleepover with the elephants. Do elephants lie down or stand up when they sleep? Well this is a chance to find out – all from the comfort of a luxury bedroom with a window overlooking the herd at night. The communal lounge, open to those who spend the night at the Lodge, is also now providing live streaming surveillance visuals.
Get married with the elephants
How about an African wedding that steals the thunder? The Knysna Elephant Park offers a unique venue for weddings, conferences and other events. Just imagine an elephant gatecrashing your wedding photos at the chapel or reception Lapa.
Natural wooden details and thatched roofs offer a unique African feel and the large windows and open plan design allows for the inclusion of the beautiful 180 degree views being included in your special day. Choose from an intimate low-key event to all-out splendid affair celebrated with the African elephants.
And kudos to the park which respects its natural vegetation, fynbos and animal life – which will therefore only allow petals for confetti … or bubbles.
For general enquiries email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +27 (0)44 532 7732 or WhatsApp +27 (0) 60 413 8310
How to get there
From Cape Town follow the N2 east for approximately 500km. After passing through Knysna, travel a further 22km where you will find a signboard indicating a turning to the left onto a dirt road. Follow the road for 1.1km until you reach the Park entrance. If you come from Port Elizabeth, follow the N2 west. After passing Plettenberg Bay you will see the signboard indicating a right about 11km from Plett.